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Mirrorshades and Mohawks

Shadowrun is like that neighbor kid that I absolutely loathed hanging out with all the cool toys. There is nothing cooler than rolling twenty dice at a time and scrying the results like tea leaves. The setting is an amazing mash-up of familiar concepts that can be worked into a wide variety of play-styles. I played the hell out of 4th and 5th edition. It was a lot of fun, but I’ve got enough gripes with the system that I don’t think I’d run a game of it for myself.

There are a lot of reasons for that, but no game is perfect and I’d rather not spend this post dunking on one that I’ve had over a decade of good times with. Instead I’ll talk about the alternative I came up with for the future.

Nothing is New

Blades in the Dark is a game focusing around a crew of scoundrels in a dark fantasy setting. The gameplay is primarily heist-based, using a flashback mechanic to allow players to pull off amazing scores without having to spend hours planning the perfect con job ahead of time. It’s very fun, and I’d recommend you give it a try if you’re up for an improv-heavy game.

There are more cyberpunk hacks for Blades than there are atoms in the universe, because long-time Shadowrun players are finding that Blades gives them fresh mechanics to accomplish the same core gameplay loop. Runners in the Shadows is a great example of this. I haven’t particularly liked any of these system hacks though, I think because it’s adding more structure to Blades than I wanted.

Mirrorshades and Mohawks

During the beginning of 2020 I put together a set of playbooks for Blades with a distinctly cyberpunk flavor. The idea here was to provide a foundation to play within a cyberpunk setting, without adding new rules to the core game. However, it does remove a core part of the game: the party does not get a crew of cohorts to boss around, nor do they get turf to control. Instead the party collects contacts and assets that can be threatened in similar ways. It’s a big change, but it helps promote the small-squad-of-mercenaries feel that I think is so critical to the genre.

Here’s a PDF of the playbooks

And here is the Affinity Publisher file